Home health care refers to many medical services offered to patients within their own homes. After a stay in the hospital, and if you qualify, the doctor may write an order for home health care services or home care nursing. Home health care is usually cheaper than remaining in the hospital. Home services are usually provided by independent companies rather than a hospital. These companies may contract with hospitals or organizations that can offer them the right specialists, such as nurses and therapists. We will discuss who needs home health care as well as three examples of the professionals who provide the services.
Who Needs Home Health Care?
Home health care and/or home care nursing are often used for people with major injuries transitioning from a long hospital stay back into "the real world." For example, if someone had both their knees crushed in a car accident and had two replacement surgeries, he or she might be in the hospital for a month or longer before being discharged. Then, the patient would need home health care for a while before being able to function independently. Home care is also helpful to those with ongoing health conditions. These days, it is mostly elderly people who receive these services, but there are always some exceptions, such as a young person with Multiple Sclerosis.
1) Home Care Nurses
Home care nursing usually involves having a registered nurse comes to your home. He or she would do things like take your blood pressure, pulse, and oxygen level; do a blood sugar test for a diabetic; assist with meals; divide medications into a pill organizer; and provide instructions and help with how to take your medications. A nurse or a nursing assistant might come along with a therapist or may come separately. It depends on the health care company and the needs of the patient.
Along with registered nurses, home health care may involve sending specialists to your home such as occupational therapists (OTs), physical therapists (PTs), and speech therapists (STs). They may take vital signs like a nurse, but their main purpose is to administer rehabilitation therapy to help the patient become more capable and independent. Physical therapists teach and oversee physical exercises that help the patient recover from injury, surgery, or another medical condition. There is some overlap between the duties of a PT and an OT, but the Occupational Therapist works with the goal of helping the patient re-learn how to do his or her everyday activities. Speech therapists may be needed after certain surgeries.
3) Home Health Aides
There are also people who work as home health aides. These people are not the same as registered nurses, but they have their own training and certifications required. A home health aide will come into the home for a certain number of hours per day and help the patient with a variety of tasks. These include helping with meals and chores, helping the patient use the bathroom, helping the patient bathe, helping the patient dress, making sure the patient takes their medication, and helping with anything else the patient is currently incapable of doing.